Learning French - Adults

If you want to learn French online, check out these free sites.

The BBC French site has a number of resources starting with a level test to help you assess which of their programmes is right for you. If you're a beginner you can try the course First Steps to prepare yourself for a trip to France, or go into more detail with Talk French. Weekly E-mails are also available to help you with your learning. If you already know a bit of French, try Ma France, a course comprising 24 interactive videos with explanations of grammar and vocabulary and a wealth of practice activities ranging from vocabulary exercises and dictations to roleplays. At intermediate level, try Reportages - a selection of articles on a wide variety of topics, many of which are used to practise grammar and vocabulary. Or you could try some interactive crosswords, or brush up your French slang with Cool French. And if you're not interested in following a complete course, but just want a few phrases to help you get by while you're their, try their Quick Fix. You'll also find games and quizzes, learning tips, and details of French language learning programmes currently being broadcast on the BBC which complement the courses. (You'll also find these in our section Language Learning News - click on the link in the sidebar.) Five stars - especially for Ma France

The French site of the University of Texas at Austin has an impressive amount of material. Start here and have a look at the drop down menu. You'll find an entire course divided into thirteen chapters and including an amazing amount of material, including grammar explanations and exercises, pronunciation work and downloadable video and audio for listening practice. You can download a Student's Workbook (scroll down to the bottom of the page) which combines the various sections into a coherent course, or you can just work through some of the individual activities which interest you, for example the listening exercises or the activities in Tex's French Grammar. Definitely another five star site.

Universities are a good source of material as they often offer the materials intended for their students online for more general use. See for example the University of Calgary's courses (at four different levels) in Reading French and if you want yet more grammar, this site from the University of Tennessee-Martin, another from the London Metropolitan University, and finally Verbs On-line.

The two-part course Accord contains some useful accompanying on-line material which could be used at elementary and lower intermediate level whether or not you are using the book.

If you're at intermediate level and based in North America, check out French in Action - a couse made up of 52 half-hour video programmes. Made by Annenberg Media it looks similar to their German programme Fokus Deutsch - which is available worldwide. Being based in Europe I've not been able to check the French programme out, but if it's as good as the German equivalent it will be well-worth using. So if you're in the States or Canada, have a look.

If you're at a intermediate or advanced level, you'll find some interesting listening and reading at Guardian Unlimited. Each activity is based around a newspaper article about France and written in French. If you're at Intermediate level, try reading the article first, and then listening without the transcript. Finally listen and read at the same time. If you're at an advanced level reverse the first two stages. Listen first, then read before listening and reading at the same time. And why not try shadow reading too? Read the transcript at the same time as the tape, trying to keep your speed, rhythm, pronunciation and intonation identical to that on the recording.

Finally, for French with a vocational twist try the
Vocational Languages Resource Bank. They have downloadable activities with audio from elementary to advanced level, many of which are as suitable for general purpose learners as those who are studying for other vocational purposes. Click on Language in the first drop down menu, on French in the one that appears next, and then on go.